There are few things as cosy as snuggling up with your dog or cat for a good sleep, whether on the sofa in front of the TV or in bed for the night. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this, so it’s important to know if sleeping with pets is best for you – and your furry friend.
Are There Health Benefits to Sleeping with Pets?
Greater Sense of Security
Sharing a bed with your pet can make you feel safer at night, both emotionally and physically. Keeping your dog close to you while you’re sleeping, when you’re at your most vulnerable, offers a sense of safety and protection. Just as people feel safer when someone else is in the bed with them, pets can provide this same level of peace and security.
Pets promote feelings of calm and relief, and being around them counteracts troubling thoughts that come with insomnia, stress, depression, and anxiety. Just touching our pets raises the level of oxytocin – or the “cuddle hormone” – in our brains. This makes us feel good, and more relaxed for a good sleep.
Warmth and Comfort
The warmth and rhythmic breathing of a pet’s body in the bed can provide a soothing effect that lulls a person to sleep. Pets have a warmer body temperature than us, and they can act like a hot water bottle or electric blanket. The ideal room temperature for night-time is around 16°C to 18°C, with the absolute maximum being 24°C1. If you’re sleeping with your pet next to you, you might want to turn the temperature down just a little bit. If you or your pet get too warm, this can disturb your sleep.
Better Emotional Bond
Just as you like being near your pet, they like being near you, too. Sleeping together makes our pets happy. Sleeping with someone in the bed can increase intimacy, and it’s the same for sleeping with your pet. If you work a typical schedule, your pet spends much of their day alone. Sleeping with you will help them feel part of the pack.
Are There Health Risks to Sleeping with Pets?
Aggravates Pet Allergies and Asthma
If you have allergies or asthma, sleeping with your pet might not be the best idea. If your allergies or asthma are mild, they could sleep on the floor. However, if you have severe problems with allergies and asthma, it would be best if your pet didn’t sleep in the same room at all. Pet allergens aren’t isolated to your pet’s body – they can get caught up in clothes, bed frames, bedding, and carpets. This means that the room can aggravate your allergies or asthma even when the pet has left the room. If you’re allergic or asthmatic, but want your pet to sleep in your room, you could use an air purifier. Browse our selection of air purifiers here.
Increases Risk of Disease
Even if you’re not allergic to your pet, your pet spends more time outside and around things you’d rather avoid – especially cats. They could pick up something outside that may interfere with your health. Sometimes, they can pass on diseases, like meningitis and parasites, by licking your hands or face. However, this is very rare. Although pets aren’t known for being the cleanest, if you keep your pet up to date on vaccinations and flea medication, and they’re otherwise healthy, you can sleep with your pet.
Interrupts Your Sleep
Even if you’re a heavy sleeper, pets can disturb your sleep at night. Movement from smaller dogs or cats may not wake you easily, but a larger dog’s movement can wake you up almost immediately. Dogs have dreams just as we do, and they kick, grunt, and move while in REM sleep. If your pet scratches themselves during the night, the noise from their nails or jingling collars can wake you up. Cats are nocturnal, so they’re more likely to rouse sleepers during the night and are happy to paw or sit on your face until you tend to them. Plus, dogs of all sizes are happy to try to hog the bed. If your pet disturbs your sleep, you could try allocating them a certain position on the bed, such as the foot of the bed, and train them to sleep in this one location. If they move from it, simply return them to it and use positive reinforcement or lots of treats when they lie down on the right spot. They will eventually get the gist. If this doesn’t work, you could get your pet their own bed for your bedroom so that they’re still close.
Generally, it is safe to sleep with your pet. Keep them clean and healthy, and assert your authority through training if they try to hog the bed. If you’re consistent with this, you and your pet can both enjoy a good sleep in each other’s company.